Beauty Cosmetology
Schools and Programs

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Students who attend cosmetology school need a great deal of high-quality training in order to prepare for a job in the field and pass the licensing examination administered by their state. In order to ensure success, students must find a school that provides rigorous hands-on and classroom training. In this guide, prospective beauty school students will find a description of the degrees available from these institutions, what criteria they should consider when looking at schools, and what they can expect after graduation.

Beauty and Cosmetology Schools and Programs

Cosmetology programs can be found at vocational schools, cosmetology schools, and community colleges. People who are interested in fashion or enjoy makeovers often pursue these degrees so they can follow their passion and learn what they need to know to have a fruitful career. Through extensive practical training and classwork, students obtain these valuable skills.

Vocational Schools

Cosmetology vocational schools provide intensive, hands-on training for students who want to pursue careers as hairstylists, nail technicians, estheticians and other related beauty fields. These programs allow students to be taught by current practitioners in the field, while also allowing them to get the practice they need to be successful when they land a job after graduation. Vocational schools should also prepare students for their licensing examination, which is a must to obtain employment.

Community Colleges

Community colleges have degree programs in beauty fields that combine practical experience with theoretical study. Students learn the philosophy behind doing hair or nails, while getting the opportunity to put those theories to the test through experiential learning. In addition, students in these programs may be required to take some general education classes, such as psychology, mathematics and business.

Cosmetology Beauty Schools

Beauty schools can be a great option for students because this is all the schools do and all they teach, while other schools have a much broader curriculum. These schools generally give students access to long-time industry professionals who can share the knowledge and techniques they gained through their experience along the way. In addition, beauty schools are equipped with the latest technologies, preparing students for the fast-changing industry by keeping them abreast of the trends.

Best Beauty Cosmetology Schools: 2016-2017

Studying for a degree in beauty or cosmetology is a great option for those with a passion to help others look and feel their best. Since this is an increasingly popular area of study, many schools now offer programs in beauty cosmetology to meet the heightened demands of prospective students. In order to streamline the search for the best beauty cosmetology schools and programs, we have ranked the top schools in this field based on their cost of tuition, financial aid opportunities, program count, student-to-teacher ratio and graduation rate. Explore the best beauty cosmetology schools and programs below.

Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 Northland Pioneer College
99.83 37% 5 10:1 11%

The Cosmetology program at Northland Pioneer College offers three levels of cosmetology training: a Certificate of Proficiency (CP), a Certificate in Applied Science (CAS), and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree, all of which prepare students to take the state licensing exam. CP courses include nail technician and cosmetology instructor training options. In addition to the CP courses, general education classes are required for the CAS and AAS degree. The AAS degree requires the most training hours, and typically takes two years to complete. Students can choose full or part-time enrollment and classes are available at three different campuses.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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2 McDowell Technical Community College
99.31 9% 5 8:1 27%

McDowell Technical Community College is a two-year vocational college with a variety of programs designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in their chosen field, including the cosmetology program. In addition to career-oriented programs, McDowell Tech offers a liberal arts transfer program for students planning to transfer to a four-year college. Those interested in a cosmetology career can pursue a diploma, a certificate or an Associate in Applied Science degree (AAS) in Cosmetology, with day and night classes available. Students can earn special certification in Cosmetology Instruction, Nail Technology and Esthetics Technology, along with Cosmetology certification after 1200 hours.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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3 Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
98.60 2% 5 11:1 35%

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College offers programs in general education and college transfer with diploma, certificate, and Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree options. The vocational programs at Rowan-Cabarrus, which includes the cosmetology program, are geared towards students planning to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation. Rowan-Cabarrus values work-based learning, and the cosmetology program here is no exception. Cosmetology students have the opportunity for hands-on experience working in the Rowan-Cabarrus Cosmetology Clinic. Additional certification is available in Esthetics, Manicuring/Nail Technology and Cosmetology Arts Instruction. Cosmetology graduates are eligible to take the State Board of Cosmetic Arts exam to become licensed cosmetologists.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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4 Randolph Community College
98.13 11% 5 13:1 15%

Randolph Community College (RCC) offers a diploma, certificate or Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in cosmetology. The cosmetology department is on the Asheboro campus, and houses the Randolph Cosmetology Center, the college operated salon, which gives students hands-on experience working with the public. A diploma or certificate program takes about 12 months, while an AAS degree program takes two years to complete, providing advanced cosmetology skills, and preparation for the State Board Exam and licensure. RCC students can take advantage of the online Armadillo Career Coach, an online resource. Students can use this to find information such as job opportunities, wages and training related to cosmetology.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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5 Beaufort County Community College
97.62 5% 4 13:1 18%

At Beaufort County Community College, students can choose from vocational programs, continuing education programs and college transfer programs, while taking advantage of the school's many resources, which include counseling, financial aid assistance, the Learning Resource Center and work-out facility. BCCC vocational programs, including the cosmetology program, are designed to get students working in their chosen field as soon as possible. Cosmetology students can earn a diploma or Associate in Applied Arts (AAS) degree along with certification in cosmetology instruction and manicure/nail technology, and upon graduation are qualified to take the State Board Exam. Licensed cosmetologists often work as stylists, colorists, nail technicians, make-up artists and platform artists.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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6 J F Drake State Community and Technical College
97.57 22% 5 15:1 15%

J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College is a two-year college with a career-training focus. In addition to vocational programs, J.F. Drake offers adult education and degree transfer programs. The cosmetology program here is full-time, with the goal of getting students working in the field of cosmetology upon graduation. Students can obtain a certificate in barber technology or career-entry cosmetology along with specialized certification in areas such as esthetics/skin care or nail care. Along with certification, students can also earn an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Salon/Spa Management. Once certification is completed, students can take the State Board Exam and become licensed working professionals.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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7 Grayson College
97.53 20% 4 18:1 19%

Grayson College is a two-year college, with a wide variety of degree, certificate and continuing education programs, ranging from traditional vocational programs such as nursing and accounting to more unique offerings such as the viticulture and enology program. Many of the programs here, including cosmetology, are designed to get graduates credentialed and into the workforce quickly. Students of Cosmetology can get real world experience while gaining hours towards certification at the cosmetology salon located on the main campus. Cosmetology, nail technician, esthetician/skin care specialist and cosmetology instructor certificate programs take from five months to a year to complete, with day and evening classes available.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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8 Cape Fear Community College
97.50 9% 4 13:1 14%

Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) is a large two-year college with a diverse curriculum, ranging from marine technology to baking and pastry arts, with over 60 technical degrees and hundreds of continuing education options. The cosmetology program at CFCC covers all aspects of the profession, with the end goal of preparing students to become licensed professionals in the field of cosmetology. Students can earn a diploma or certificate in cosmetology, while also obtaining specialized certification in esthetics technology or cosmetology instruction. The college recently added a barber technology program, which is offered full or part-time, and takes about 12-14 months to complete.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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9 Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
97.47 9% 4 18:1 18%

At Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, students can find a wide variety of programs. In addition to the more traditional programs found at technical colleges, students can pursue an education in fields such as aviation, brewing, engineering and geomatics technology. Students of cosmetology at A-B Tech can earn a diploma, certificate or AAS degree in cosmetology, or a certificate in manicuring/nail technology, Esthetics and cosmetology instruction. A-B Tech also offers an evening diploma program for cosmetology students. Students gain hands-on experience at the on-campus spa, and students planning to start their own business can get help through the Small Business Center.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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10 Howard College
97.47 38% 4 15:1 18%

Howard College is a two-year college that provides several academic and career technical/workforce programs. In addition, Howard College is home to the Southwest Collegiate Institution for the Deaf, which provides higher education to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and includes several deaf-related degree options. For those studying Cosmetology here, certificates in Cosmetology, Facial Specialist/Esthetician, Nail Technology and Cosmetology Instruction are available. For those pursuing an AAS degree in Cosmetology, a Certificate Level 1 is required along with second year requirements. Both certificate and degree programs prepare students to take the State Board Exam to become licensed working professionals in the field of Cosmetology.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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11 James Sprunt Community College
97.33 3% 4 14:1 14%

In addition to career-oriented and academic transfer programs, James Sprunt Community College (JSCC) offers a variety of other programs, such as continuing education, middle school and high school programs and courses at the North Carolina Department of Corrections. Students planning to pursue a career in Cosmetology can earn a diploma, certificate or AAS degree in Cosmetology, which all prepare students for the State Board Exam and licensure and provide skills to work in the field of Cosmetology. Those wishing to teach can obtain a certificate in Cosmetology Instruction. Cosmetology students can take advantage of several student resources, which include counseling, the Student Success Center and Career Coach, an online employment resource.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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12 Blue Ridge Community College
97.28 10% 5 12:1 17%

Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) has over 100 programs of study offering diplomas, certificates and associate degrees. BRCC also has one of the largest selection of continuing education courses in the state and a wide variety of vocational programs and college transfer options. The Cosmetology program here offers a diploma, certificate and an AAS degree in Cosmetology and a Cosmetology Instructor certificate. In addition, a Career and College Promise Program in Cosmetology is available to high school students interested in pursuing a career in Cosmetology. Graduates of the Cosmetology program at BRCC can take the State Board Exam to become licensed to work in the field of Cosmetology.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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13 Trinidad State Junior College
96.99 44% 3 14:1 39%

Trinidad State Junior College has a wide variety of programs, with many traditional vocational offerings, and some less common, such as Aquaculture, Holistic Health and Gunsmithing, and is home to the Southern Rockies Heritage School. Trinidad State is part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) which allows students to attend out-of-state member colleges at a reduced tuition rate. The Cosmetology certificates offered at Trinidad State are for Cosmetology, Barber, Esthetician, Hairstylist and Manicurist. Cosmetology students can also earn an Associate of General Studies Degree. Upon graduation, Cosmetology students are considered career-ready, and can become licensed after passing the State Board Exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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14 Augusta Technical College
96.97 20% 4 14:1 20%

Augusta Technical College is a two-year college offering diploma programs in Cosmetology and Barber Technology, and Technical Certificate of Credit (TCC) programs in Cosmetology Instructor and Barbering for Cosmetologists. These programs prepare students to become licensed working professionals in the Cosmetology field. In addition to Cosmetology, Augusta Technical College offers several other career-oriented programs, adult education, online programs and customized business and industry training, with day, evening and weekend classes available. Students at Augusta Technical College will find several student resources available, including career counseling, special population counseling, veteran assistance and the Success Center.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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15 Lee College
96.74 11% 4 13:1 21%

Lee College has a large selection of vocational programs, through which students can earn either a Certificate of Completion or associate degrees (AA, AS, AAS). Lee College also offers several other educational opportunities, including general education and field of study transfer programs, off-campus classes, continuing education and community education programs, such as Kids at College and Senior Adult and Travel. Students planning a career in Cosmetology can earn a Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology, Cosmetology Student Instructor and Cosmetology HS Dual Credit (for high school students). Upon graduation, Cosmetology students can become licensed professionals after passing the State Board Examination.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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16 Hinds Community College
96.67 22% 3 18:1 13%

Hinds College is the largest community college in Mississippi and offers more than 80 career/technical programs, with some associate degree programs being transferrable to specific four-year colleges in Mississippi. A nice option at Hinds College is that students not receiving financial aid can set up a monthly payment plan. For those planning a career in Cosmetology, Hinds College offers both Technical Certificate and AAS degree programs in Cosmetology and Cosmetology Instruction and also offers a Barber/Stylist Career Certificate program. Completion of these programs will qualify graduates to sit for the State Board Exam to obtain licensure to work in Cosmetology and related jobs.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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17 San Juan College
96.61 28% 4 20:1 13%

San Juan College (SJC) is a trade and technology college with diverse educational opportunities, which include career-oriented, online and college transfer programs. SJC even has a high school on campus where high school students can earn a high school diploma along with an associate degree. Cosmetology students can pursue an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Cosmetology, or a certificate in Cosmetology, Cosmetology Instruction, Barber, Manicuring/Pedicuring and Esthetician. Students will get hands-on experience in a salon setting while also learning about the retail and business side of Cosmetology. Upon graduation, students can become licensed, working professionals in the Cosmetology field after passing the State Board Exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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18 South Georgia Technical College
96.60 3% 5 14:1 32%

South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) has over 200 career-oriented degree, certificate, diploma and non-credit programs focused on preparing students for the workforce successfully along with providing training for those in the workforce desiring to learn new skills and gain further knowledge. SGTC students planning a career in Cosmetology can earn a diploma in Cosmetology, or a certificate in Barber, Cosmetology or Cosmetology Instruction. The curriculum teaches professional skills, along with all aspects of the Cosmetology business, including safety, regulations, retail and salon management. Upon graduation, students can take the State Board Exam to become licensed Cosmetology professionals.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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19 Hill College
96.52 36% 4 20:1 20%

Hill College has a variety of programs, including college transfer, academic and vocational programs designed to get students working in their chosen field upon graduation. Students can pursue an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Cosmetology, or a Certificate of Completion in Cosmetology Operator, Cosmetology Instructor, Esthetician or Nail Technician. The Cosmetology courses teach theory and basic skills, along with preparing students for the State Board Exam to become licensed working professionals. Students can choose from three campuses and receive hands-on training at one of Hill College's salons. Classes are offered during the day, and depending on the program, can take 2-4 semesters to complete.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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20 Carteret Community College
96.27 8% 4 8:1 16%

Carteret Community College offers a wide variety of vocational programs for students looking to get into the workforce upon graduation, plus several community and corporate continuing education options for those looking to gain new skills. In addition, Carteret offers transfer degrees and dual credit options for high school students. Cosmetology students can pursue a diploma in Cosmetology, which takes about 16 months to complete, or a specialized certificate in Manicuring/Nail Technology, Esthetics or Cosmetology Instruction. These courses will prepare graduates to take the State Board of Cosmetic Arts to become licensed to work in Cosmetology in beauty salons and related settings.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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21 Haywood Community College
96.27 9% 4 6:1 20%

Haywood Community College (HCC) has several traditional vocational programs, along with some less common, such as Fish and Wildlife Management and Professional Crafts, which are unique to the state. The Cosmetology program at HCC offers a diploma or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree, and certificates for Cosmetology Instructor and Manicuring Instructor. Cosmetology classes here are typically offered during the day, with possible part-time schedules available. Students can hone their creativity and basic skills at the Cosmetic Arts Clinic, which is open to the community. The Cosmetology courses at HCC prepare students to enter the workforce after passing the State Board Exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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22 Frank Phillips College
96.18 30% 3 17:1 25%

Frank Phillips College offers associate degree, certificate, online and continuing education classes along with programs for high school students. FPC has several career-oriented programs, including Cosmetology, plus some that prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities. Cosmetology students at FPC can earn a certificate in Cosmetology, Cosmetology Instruction and Nail Technician, and upon completion, are qualified to take the State Board Exam to become licensed Cosmetology professionals. The program is available at 3 campuses, each with on-site full-service salons, where students will gain real world experience. FPC also offers a variety of student organizations, student housing, and several educational and student support services.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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23 Bevill State Community College
96.12 38% 5 17:1 14%

For those interested in Cosmetology, Bevill State Community College (BSCC) offers a Spa Management program. Within this program, students can earn a Barber, Cosmetology or Cosmetology Instructor Certificate, with short and long-term certificate options. The Barber courses focus mainly on barber skills and business, while the Cosmetology courses include nail and skin care, in addition to the basic skills and business of Cosmetology. These programs will prepare students to take the State Board Exam to gain licensure. Cosmetology students have access to up-to-date technology at BSCC, such as the Bevill State Bear Growl message system, on-campus WIFI, the BSCC App and free Microsoft Office 365.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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24 Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
96.06 N/A 5 13:1 25%

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College has several options for those planning to pursue a career in the cosmetology industry. Technical certificates are available in hair designer, shampoo technician, esthetician and barbering for cosmetologists. Students desiring to become licensed by the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology can attend the barbering or cosmetology diploma program, and upon graduation, can sit for the State Board Exam. The diploma program curriculum contains general education requirements with an emphasis on occupational courses, with day and evening classes offered. The cosmetology program is offered at four different campuses, all of which have an on-site salon for hands-on experience.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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25 Meridian Community College
96.03 34% 4 21:1 35%

Meridian Community College (MCC) has over 52 workforce education training programs, including the cosmetology program. In addition, the college offers continuing education, adult education, college transfer programs and academic programs, along with an Honors College. The cosmetology program, offered during the day, takes about 12 months to complete. Students can also earn a nail technology or cosmetology teacher training certificate. Upon completion, students are eligible to take the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology Licensing Exam. MCC provides support and resources such as academic advising and MCC's Career Development Center, which can help cosmetology students with industry connections, resume building and career options.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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26 Lamar State College-Port Arthur
96.02 23% 6 17:1 17%

Lamar State College-Port Arthur (LSCPA), is a two-year college and a member of The Texas State University System, offering two-year and certificate programs. Students studying cosmetology at LSCPA can earn a one-year certificate of completion in cosmetology operator, cosmetology Instruction or Esthetics, or a two-year AAS degree in Cosmetology Operator or Cosmetology Instruction. The degree curriculum has specific core requirements, with the majority of classes consisting of lab and technical courses, as a specific number of hours are required by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation. LSCPA has state-of-the-art learning facilities, which include the LSPCA Cosmetology Center salon, providing students hands-on training working with the community.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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27 Mott Community College
95.88 9% 6 19:1 9%

Mott Community College (MCC) provides several options for a career-oriented Cosmetology education through the Transitions School of Cosmetology. The Cosmetology Certificate of Achievement is a full-time, one-year program with daytime classes. Students can choose to pursue several specialized certificates, such as nail technology and salon management, cosmetic services esthetician salon management and nail technology & esthetics instructor. A two-year AAS degree is also available in hair care salon management. All of these programs provide students with the required practical hours to qualify for the State Board Exams upon graduation. MCC offers career advisement plus lifelong employment services to alumni.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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28 Bladen Community College
95.76 2% 4 12:1 12%

Bladen Community College (BCC) has several academic and vocational programs in areas such as general education, business, health sciences, industrial technology and public service technology, which includes Cosmetology. In addition, BCC offers continuing education courses and a nationally certified distance learning program. Depending on individual needs and goals, cosmetology students can pursue a diploma, certificate or AAS degree in Cosmetology, with the AAS degree taking about two years to complete and having the most general education requirements. All programs will prepare graduates for the State Board of Cosmetic Arts Exam for licensure to work in the field of cosmetology.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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29 Savannah Technical College
95.65 N/A 5 17:1 26%

Savannah Technical College (STC) has over 100 different programs. Technical programs here are market-driven and hands-on, as evident in departments such as culinary arts, which operates the Bistro Savoir, an award winning restaurant and The Georgia Film academy, where students can learn to be on-set production assistants. The cosmetology program at STC is no different-students will gain industry knowledge and skills with an emphasis on practical experience. STC offers a diploma in both barbering and cosmetology, preparing students to take the State Board Exam for licensure. Students can earn certificates of credit in areas of specialization, which include hair designer, nail technician, shampoo technician and barbering for cosmetologists.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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30 Mayland Community College
95.59 5% 4 14:1 34%

In addition to over 100 workforce development and continuing education classes, Mayland Community College (MCC) offers college transfer degrees, distance learning, adult education, dual enrollment for high school kids and classes at two correctional facilities. MCC has a strong scholarship program offered through the MCC Foundation and the North Carolina College System Office, several of which cosmetology students may be eligible for. Students pursuing a cosmetology career at MCC can complete a diploma or certificate program in cosmetology, cosmetology instructor training or manicuring/nail technology. These programs prepare students to become licensed professionals in the field of cosmetology, after passing the State Board Exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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31 Johnston Community College
95.53 4% 3 16:1 29%

For students planning to pursue a Cosmetology career, Johnston Community College offers a diploma and Associate in Applied (AAS) degree in Cosmetology, preparing students to obtain professional licensure by taking the State Board Exam upon graduation. The diploma and degree curriculum is similar, with additional credits in general education required for the AAS degree. Students practice basic skills with hands-on experience in the JCC Cosmetology Salon, and for those interested in teaching, instructor training certification is offered. Continuing education classes are available in subjects such as nail enhancement/silk wraps, specialty make-up and natural hair treatments. Cosmetology graduates typically work in salons, management, marketing and sales.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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32 San Jacinto College
95.46 2% 7 19:1 15%

San Jacinto College offers over 185 degrees and certificates in 7 areas of study: business, fine arts, industrial technology, health sciences, liberal arts, STEM and Career and Technical Education, which includes cosmetology. Students pursuing a cosmetology career can earn a Certificate of Technology in Cosmetology Operator, Cosmetology Instructor, Esthetics or Nail Technology. AAS degrees in Cosmetology or Cosmetology Instructor are also available, which are two-year full-time programs offered during the day. Both certificate and degree programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in the cosmetology field, and upon graduation, students are qualified to take the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Exam to obtain professional licensure.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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33 Pamlico Community College
95.43 11% 2 9:1 67%

Pamlico Community College, a two-year college with several campuses, offers vocational programs, continuing education, academic, four-year college transfer programs and dual credit programs. Individuals looking to start a cosmetology career can earn a certificate or diploma in cosmetology, or a specialized certificate in esthetics or manicure and nails. In addition to classroom hours, students gain practical experience working with the public in a salon setting. To obtain licensure, graduates must pass the State Board Exam relevant to the chosen completed program. High School students have an opportunity to earn an Esthetics certificate through the Career Technical Pathway program, a part of Career and College Promise (CCP)

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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34 Stanly Community College
95.42 15% 3 15:1 25%

Stanly Community College (SCC) offers diploma, certificate and Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree options in cosmetology. These programs prepare students to take the State Board Exam to become licensed working cosmetology professionals. Those interested in teaching can earn a certificate in cosmetology or manicuring instruction. Along with traditional vocational programs such as cosmetology, SCC has some less common options, ranging from aquaponics and auctioneer training to simulation and game development. This also applies to student resources-SCC offers resources typically seen on college campuses, but also has others, including the Writing Center, Female STEM mentoring, and a student food pantry

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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35 Johnson County Community College
95.33 18% 4 20:1 14%

Johnson County Community College (JCCC) is one of the largest colleges in the state, with a yearly enrollment of about 46,000, and over 100 career and certificate programs plus several non-credit workforce development programs. Cosmetology students can earn a certificate or an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Cosmetology. For an AAS degree, students must have completed the JCCC Cosmetology Certificate program, plus an additional 18 credits. Specialization certificates include esthetics, nail technology and cosmetology Instructor. Upon graduation, students are qualified to become licensed to work in the cosmetology industry, in areas such as salons, spas, theater, fashion, salon ownership and retail sales.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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36 Columbus Technical College
95.28 N/A 4 18:1 16%

Columbus Technical College offers a diploma program in Cosmetology, which takes about 2 years to complete. In addition to the creative side, students will learn all aspects of the cosmetology field, such as rules and regulations, safety, chemistry and anatomy, and will gain the practical experience required for licensure, upon passing the State Board Exam. Students looking to specialize can earn a Technical Certificate of Credit in Cosmetology Instruction, Esthetician, Medical Skin Specialist, Nail Technician and Shampoo Technician. Cosmetology students can take advantage of Career Services, which offers services including career counseling, resume review, interview prep and job postings.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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37 Kansas City Kansas Community College
95.26 22% 2 13:1 20%

Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) has over 100 degree and certificate programs, which include vocational, academic and transfer programs. KCKCC also offers a dual enrollment program, online courses, continuing education and educational opportunities through the Workforce, Career and Entrepreneurship Center. The Technical Education Center is dedicated to providing over 20 high-demand career-oriented programs, including Cosmetology. Classes are offered during the day, typically full-time, allowing students to gain hands-on experience along with courses focusing on subjects such as business and management. Cosmetology students can earn a Technical Certificate in Cosmetology or Nail Technology, preparing them for licensure through the Kansas Board of Cosmetology Exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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38 New Mexico Junior College
95.24 34% 3 18:1 18%

The Cosmetology program at New Mexico Junior College (NMJC) is approved by the New Mexico Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists, which is also the organization cosmetology students will be tested by after graduation, to obtain professional licensure. NMJC has several educational opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in the cosmetology field. Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees and Certificates are available in cosmetology, as well as an AAS in barbering, which is typically seen in most programs as a certificate only. Students can choose to focus on a specialty area, and earn Certificates of Completion in Cosmetology Instruction, Esthetician and Nail Technician programs.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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39 Southwestern Community College
95.21 15% 3 15:1 32%

Southwestern Community College (SCC) offers several different types of programs, depending on students' needs, which include college transfer, vocational, Honors and early college programs, online courses and continuing education through Workforce Innovations. The Career Technologies Division offers 3 options for Cosmetology students: a diploma, certificate or AAS degree in cosmetology. All programs are typically offered during the day, and take from about 18 months to two years to complete. Upon graduation, students will be qualified to become licensed by taking the State Board Exam. While at SCC, students can find valuable resources through the SCC Career Center, such as including career counseling, career seminars and job fairs.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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40 College of the Ouachitas
95.18 24% 3 15:1 23%

The Cosmetology Technical Certificate program at the College of the Oachitas prepares program graduates to work in entry-level positions in the cosmetology field. The program takes about one year to complete, and mixes classroom time with practical experience, where students will earn 1500 contact clock hours, which is required to qualify for the Arkansas Board of Cosmetology Licensing Exam. Students may also earn Certificates of Proficiency in Haircare and Nail and Skin care. In addition to certificate programs, Oachitas has associate degree, continuing education, workforce training, concurrent enrollment programs and an Honors college, with several institutional scholarships available.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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41 Fayetteville Technical Community College
95.17 1% 4 20:1 7%

Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) has over 200 associate, diploma and certificate programs, which include technical, occupational, general education, transfer and online programs. The cosmetology program at FTCC offers certificate, diploma and AAS degree programs that range from 2-5 semesters, with the AAS degree having the most credit requirements. The curriculum is a mix of lab and lecture with hands-on practical experience. For those wanting to teach, a certificate can be earned in Cosmetology Instruction. Upon graduation, students will be qualified to take the State Board of Cosmetic Arts Examination for licensure and typically find entry-level work in salons and spas.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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42 Pickens Technical College
95.17 4% 3 20:1 78%

Pickens Technical College offers a Certificate in Cosmetology, which is offered as both day and evening classes, and takes about 24 months to complete, depending on full or part-time enrollment. A certificate in Barbering is also offered, and only available in the evenings. Both of these programs have curriculum for high school students as well as adults. In addition, Cosmetology students can earn certification to work as Estheticians and Nail Technicians. Upon graduation, students will be qualified to take the State Licensing Examination, and can then work as licensed professionals in a salon, spa, retail or management setting.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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43 Athens Technical College
95.04 1% 3 13:1 29%

Athens Technical College (ATC) has several options for those planning to pursue a career in Cosmetology. Students can earn a diploma in Cosmetology, which is offered as a day or evening program, with spring or fall semester admission. An Esthetician certificate program is available with fall only admission. ATC has four campuses, and admission dates to these programs also depends on campuses selected. ATC offers a Shampoo Technician program, which is specific to high school students in a dual enrollment program. These programs are designed to get students working as licensed professionals in the field of Cosmetology after passing the required State Board Exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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44 Pearl River Community College
94.98 28% 4 16:1 32%

There are over 40 Career/Technical programs available at Pearl River Community College (PRCC) with degree or certificate options, including the Cosmetology program. Students can pursue a Technical Certificate in Cosmetology, which is an 11-month program. Also offered is a Barbering/Stylist program, which takes about 12 months, with fall admission only. For those interested in teaching, certificates in Cosmetology Instruction and Barbering Instruction are also offered. After completion of these programs, graduates can take the State Board Exam to become licensed professionals in the Cosmetology field. Cosmetology students have access to several student resources offered at PRCC, including career, personal, and educational counseling through Counseling Services.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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45 Edgecombe Community College
94.95 8% 4 26:1 12%

Edgecombe Community College (ECC) has several certificate option available to those planning a career in Cosmetology. Students can earn a Diploma in Cosmetology, which takes about 4 semesters to complete, including summer semester. Examples of subjects included in the curriculum include hair, skin and nail care, chemical processes, business principles and product knowledge, in addition to hands-on experience in a salon setting. ECC also offers a Barber diploma program, and certificates in specialty areas such as Esthetics Technology, Esthetics Instructor, Manicuring/Nail Technology, Manicuring/Nail Technology Instructor and Cosmetology Instructor. These programs prepare students gain licensure by passing the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Arts Exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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46 Reid State Technical College
94.93 59% 4 14:1 34%

The career-oriented programs at Reid State Technical College (RSTC) are geared towards giving students strong academic and technical skills to successfully enter the workforce in their chosen field. The Cosmetology program at RSTC does exactly that. It is designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs such as hair stylist, nail technician, make-up artist, skin care specialist and retail sales. Students can pursue a diploma in cosmetology, and certificates in nail Technology and Cosmetology Instructor Training are also offered. Upon completion of the diploma program and certificate programs, graduates are qualified to take the Alabama Board of Cosmetic Arts Exam to become licensed professionals.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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47 Houston Community College
94.86 3% 5 22:1 11%

For those pursuing a career in Cosmetology, the Houston Community College Cosmetology program has several educational opportunities, including Certificate and Associate in Applied Arts (AAS) degree options. The curriculum is a mix of theory and practical instruction, covering all aspects of the Cosmetology business, designed to prepare graduates to take the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations Cosmetology Exam. For those interested in teaching, a Certificate or AAS degree in Cosmetology Instruction is available. Students have the option here of obtaining specialized certification in areas such as Facial Specialist, Styling/Salon Management Entrepreneur and Hair Weaving and Braiding Entrepreneur.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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48 Brunswick Community College
94.78 9% 5 21:1 24%

In addition to nursing and allied health and arts and sciences programs, Brunswick Community College (BCC) offers several professional and technical programs, including cosmetology and cosmetology instructor. Cosmetology students can earn a certificate, diploma or AAS degree in Cosmetology, and upon graduation, are qualified to take the State Board Exam for licensure. The programs take 3-5 semesters to complete, with the AAS degree taking the most time, requiring 15 general education credits along with the cosmetology courses. Three colleges in North Carolina have agreements with BCC to offer four-year degree options to professional and technical programs graduates of AAS programs.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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49 Vance-Granville Community College
94.77 18% 3 16:1 28%

Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC) offers a diploma in Cosmetology program, along with certificate programs in cosmetology instruction and manicuring/nail technology. With working salons at all four campuses, cosmetology students have several opportunities to gain real-world skills and knowledge in addition to classroom time. The curriculum prepares students to work in the field of cosmetology, and once completed, students can earn licensure by passing the State Board Exam. Cosmetology students at VGCC can stay well connected through various methods, including VGCC on social networks, the VGCC Chronicles, the VanGran Newsletter, the VGCC Mediasite and Vance-Granvile Today, a monthly video show.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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50 Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus
94.74 32% 4 18:1 18%

Lawson State Community College (LSCC) offers certificate programs in cosmetology technology, barbering technology and nail technology. These programs are designed to prepare students with the skills needed to enter the field of cosmetology upon graduation, with knowledge to pass the State Board Exam for licensure. In addition to technical skills, the curriculum also focuses on creativity, customer service and business aspects of the cosmetology industry. LSCC students have access to many student resources, such as academic advisement, support and career services, and incoming students can benefit from programs such as LSCC's QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan), which can help make the transition to college easier.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 Pensacola State College
99.74 23% 3 21:1 N/A

Pensacola State College is a public college with several educational opportunities, including certificate, associate and bachelor degree options. Cosmetology students can earn vocational certificates in cosmetology, which takes three semesters, and barbering, offered only in the evenings, which takes five semesters to complete. Certificates are also available in esthetics, facials specialty, nails specialty and advanced esthetics. The curriculum for these programs provides a mix of lab, classroom and internships, allowing students to earn the required clock hours to qualify for the State Board Exam for their chosen area of study. Upon passing the state exam, graduates become licensed to work in the field of cosmetology.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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2 Idaho State University
99.05 37% 3 16:1 31%

Idaho State University College of Technology offers an Advanced Technology Certificate in Cosmetology and a basic certificate in nail technology, which are designed to prepare students to become licensed working professionals in the field of cosmetology. Admission to the cosmetology program is twice a year, takes about 18 months to complete, and offers classes during the day. The nail technology program is one semester long and offered in the summer only. Both programs provide knowledge and basic skills, with hands-on experience to prepare students for the State Board licensure exams. Cosmetology students have several scholarship opportunities through the College of Technology, including scholarships specific to cosmetology students.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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3 Florida Gateway College
99.01 33% 2 14:1 N/A

Florida Gateway College offers several career-oriented programs geared towards students looking to enter the workforce upon graduation. Students planning to pursue a career in cosmetology can earn an Occupational Certificate in Cosmetology through the Division of Occupational Programs, and once completed, are eligible to take the State Board Examination. This program is three semesters, and classes are offered during the day, Monday through Thursday. The curriculum includes salon management and a State Board Exam preparation courses. Students can also earn nail specialist and facial specialist certification. Cosmetology students can participate in their classes' Cosmetology Club, which holds fundraisers for hair shows and other student activities.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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4 Palm Beach State College
98.77 9% 2 30:1 N/A

Palm Beach State College has several different educational opportunities, including both associate and bachelor's degrees, vocational certificate programs, continuing education, online courses, and dual credit and Career pathways programs for high school students. The college encourages non-traditional careers for men and women, and has several resources available. The cosmetology program offers a 12-month day or 13-month evening program. In addition to classroom time, students will get hands-on experience performing salon services on the public in a salon setting. Upon completion, students will earn a Post-Secondary Adult Vocational (PSAV) Certificate and be qualified to take the State Board Exam for professional licensure.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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5 Daytona State College
98.39 24% 2 18:1 N/A

Daytona State College offers a Vocational Credit Certificate program in both Barbering and Cosmetology. These programs are performance-based, with a mix of lab and classroom time, and depending on the program chosen, five hours of online study or online testing is built into the curriculum. Students have some flexibility with these programs. The cosmetology program is available at two different campuses, with day or evening courses, and the barbering program is offered as a full-time day or part-time evening program. Upon completion of either program, graduates can sit for the State Board Exam, which must be passed in order to become licensed to work in the field of cosmetology.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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6 Chipola College
96.64 16% 1 18:1 N/A

The cosmetology program at Chipola College is a 12-month daytime program designed to prepare students for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Exam to become professionally licensed cosmetologists. The cosmetology school here is a Pivot Point member, with Pivot Point based curriculum, which emphasizes design and creativity, and provides several opportunities for hands-on experience. All aspects, including the technical and business side of the cosmetology field are covered, along with nail and skin care. In addition to workforce development certificate programs like cosmetology, Chipola College also offers College Credit certificate programs, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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7 Eastern Florida State College
96.25 9% 1 24:1 N/A

The cosmetology program at Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) is a full-time, 12-month Post-secondary Adult Vocational (PSAV) Certificate program offered during the day only. Admission is limited, and is based on a point system using testing, academic achievement and letters of recommendation. Students get to practice their skills and gain valuable knowledge by working with the public in the EFSC Cosmetology Salon. Specialized training in the facial specialty and nail specialty programs is also available. Upon completion, students are qualified to take the State Board Licensing Exam to become licensed working professionals, often in a salon, spa or retail setting.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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8 Midland College
96.17 62% 1 17:1 N/A

The Midland College cosmetology program is certified by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, and takes 12 months to complete. The daytime curriculum includes the areas of salon operation, hair, skin and nail care and styling, color and chemicals with opportunities for hands-on experience, field trips and demonstrations. Upon completion of the program, students will earn a Level I Certificate, with the skills and knowledge to pass the Texas Cosmetology Operator Licensing Exam to begin work in the cosmetology field. Cosmetology students may be eligible for income-based student resources, such as text book loans, assistance with transportation and childcare, through the Career Center.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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9 Florida State College at Jacksonville
96.07 15% 1 22:1 N/A

Florida State College at Jacksonville's cosmetology program is a full-time Post-Secondary Adult Vocational (PSAV) program, and provides students with the clock hours required to qualify for the Florida State Board of Cosmetology Licensing Exam. Admission to the program is limited, with specific criteria required. Day, evening and weekend classes are available, and combine theory with practical experience, covering all aspects of cosmetology. Students can also earn specialized certification in the Facial Specialty program. Upon completion, students will earn a Workforce Certificate and can obtain licensure after passing the State Board Exam. In addition to cosmetology, FSCJ offers over 100 other technical and workforce certificates.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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10 Vincennes University
95.95 18% 1 17:1 N/A

Founded in 1801, Vincennes University has over 200 majors, with certificate, associate, transfer and bachelor's degree options and four campuses. Students pursuing a career in cosmetology can earn an Associate of Science (AS) Career/Technical degree, and upon graduation can obtain licensure after passing the State Board Exam. The program is a two-year program with general education courses in addition to cosmetology specific courses. Licensed graduates of the cosmetology program often find work as hairs stylists, colorists, make-up artists and nail specialists in spa or salon settings, and may go on to become salon owners and cosmetology instructors.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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11 South Florida State College
95.79 10% 1 17:1 N/A

South Florida State College (SFSC) has four campuses and a wide variety of majors and programs, including cosmetology. The cosmetology program takes 11 months to complete, and graduates of the program will earn an Occupational Certificate in Cosmetology. Students will have plenty of opportunities for hands-on experience during the program, in the classroom, lab and in the SFSC's full-service salon. The curriculum prepares students for entry-level cosmetology jobs, after taking the Florida State Board of Cosmetology Exam for professional licensure. Cosmetology students can stay connected through various SFSC Facebook pages, Panther Central and the Daily Connection, an online daily publication with information such as campus news and student events

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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12 Northern New Mexico College
91.50 13% 5 10:1 N/A

Northern New Mexico College offers degrees and certificates in both barbering and cosmetology through the College of Business Administration. The certificate programs take 12 months to complete, and the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree programs take two years. All programs provide a mix of classroom time with practical experience to prepare students for careers in the cosmetology field. Upon completion of the certificate or degree programs in barbering and cosmetology, students are qualified to become licensed after sitting for the State Board Exam. Students at NNMC have several opportunities for involvement in student clubs and organizations, including the Cosmetology and Barbering Club.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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13 Indian River State College
91.25 11% 3 26:1 N/A

In addition to degree programs, Indian River State College (IRSC) has several career-oriented programs, in which students can earn Technical certificates or Applied Technology diplomas. Students interested in a cosmetology career have several options at IRSC. Students can pursue a Post-Secondary Adult Vocational (PSAV) Certificate in either Cosmetology or Barbering, with cosmetology specialist certificate options in nails, facials and advanced esthetics. Once the PSAV Certificate is earned, graduates can take the State Board Exam for their chosen area to become licensed professionals. Cosmetology and barbering students can take advantage of several student resources at IRSC, such as academic and career support, childcare and the Health and Wellness Center.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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14 Utah State University
86.80 51% 1 22:1 50%

Utah State University is a large, public university offering both graduate and undergraduate degrees with some associate degree and certificate options, giving cosmetology students the opportunity for a traditional college campus experience. The cosmetology program is a two-year Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree program, although it can be done in one year with prior general education credits. In addition to general education courses, the curriculum focuses on areas such as cosmetology, barbering, skin care and nail technology, with a mix of theory and practical experience. In addition to State Board preparation for licensure, students will prepare a portfolio of their work to present to employers.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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15 Remington College
86.72 85% 1 17:1 75%

The Remington College Cosmetology Diploma Program is offered at six locations, with four in Texas, one in Louisiana and one in Ohio. The programs at Remington provide several opportunities for hands-on experience, and cosmetology students will work with real clients in a salon setting. Students learn the fundamentals of hair, skin and nail care, along with elements of the scientific, creative and business sides of the industry. The program takes 12 months to complete, at which time students will be qualified to take the State Board Exam to obtain licensure. Students will gain product knowledge while working with Matrix products and can earn a Matrix CRAFT certificate.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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Cosmetology Schools Must-Have List

People won’t let just anyone do their hair or nails, so prospective cosmetology school students shouldn’t let just anyone teach them the tricks of the trade. The beauty business can get ugly very fast when a practitioner does not know what they’re doing, so anyone who wants to learn cosmetology should be choosy about what school they attend. The following are some criteria that they should look for when considering beauty schools.

State Exam Preparation

In order to find employment in the beauty business, students will need to pass their state’s licensing examination. It’s imperative they find a school that will prepare them for this test, otherwise they won’t be able to obtain their license.

Instructors

The last thing a student needs from a beauty school is a group of instructors who either have not been in the business long enough to have the valuable experience that students need, or have not practiced in so long that they’re unaware of the latest industry trends and technologies. Prospective students should be sure to ask about a school’s instructors to find out their credentials. Also, it’s best to look for teachers who are not only still active the industry, but are leaders in the industry who have won awards or national cosmetology competitions.

Curriculum

Cosmetology is a wide and varied field, so students should pick a school that has a lot of coursework in the area they want to practice in. If a student is interested in becoming a hair colorist, they need to pick a school that has a strong hair coloring curriculum. Similarly, a student who is interested in nail technology will not be happy in a program that primarily focuses on hair. Students need to think about their career goals and find a school that will help them best achieve them.

Salon Experience

The most important element of any cosmetology school is the first-hand experience students get as they earn their degrees. But, some experiences are better than others. Although some schools allow students to work on plastic dummies in order to learn hair techniques, students get much more value from a school that gives them the opportunity to work in an actual salon environment cutting clients’ hair. Students should find out if the school they’re interested in will give them access to a salon environment before they enroll.

Accreditation

To ensure that programs are adhering to high standards, students should look for schools that are accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, or NACCAS. Over 1,000 schools around the country are accredited by the NACCAS, which ensures that they are following a quality curriculum that will best prepare students to work in the field.

Cosmetology Degrees and Certificates

There are several kinds of degree programs that cover a broad spectrum of areas in the field. The curriculum of these programs differs depending on what kind of degree students wish to complete. While certificate programs have an intense focus on cosmetology subjects alone, students who obtain associate’s degrees generally also take courses not related to cosmetology.

Cosmetology Diploma/Certificate

Students enrolled in any certificate or diploma program at a cosmetology school should expect to get class training and hands-on experience that will allow them to pass their licensing examination. Students who earn diplomas and certificates undergo intensive training that they can use to find an entry level position at a salon.

The following are some courses that students in these programs may be required to take:

Basic Cosmetology Concepts

This course familiarizes students with the basic concepts of cosmetology. This is where students first learn about topics like anatomy, first aid, hygiene, chemistry and the different products used in a salon.

Advanced Cosmetology Concepts

This course builds upon the knowledge that students previously learned and gives them more in-depth information. In addition, students in this course learn new concepts and topics such as chemical restructuring, hair coloring and manicuring.

Salon

Students in this class get an introduction to salon services. Topics include shampooing, hair coloring, rinsing, relaxing and wigs.

Cosmetology AA Degree

A cosmetology associate degree is designed to provide students with intensive training in cosmetology topics, as well as hands-on instruction. However, associate degree programs will also require non-cosmetology related subjects, giving students a more well-rounded educational experience. Those who complete these degrees also get the preparation they need to pass their state licensing examination. Although students are trained to enter entry-level careers with this degree, they can also develop business skills that will help them advance in their careers later on.

The following are some examples of coursework that may be available in an associate degree program at a cosmetology school:

Hair Design Theory

Students learn the basics of hair design in this course, which covers topics such as infection control, properties of the hair and scalp, basic chemistry, anatomy and physiology.

Fundamentals of Cosmetology

This class gives students a theoretical basis that will help them when they’re actually working on their hands-on training. Class topics include hair texture services, hair styling, skin care, manicuring, hair cutting and hair coloring.

Thermal Styling

This class familiarizes students with different thermal hair styling techniques. Students gain knowledge of the different types of thermal hairstyling tools and how to use them effectively.

Business Etiquette

Although many hair stylists view themselves as artists, they are still working in a business environment and need to know the etiquette of business. Course topics include how to communicate with clients as well as other stylists, proper business attire and business networking.

Related Certificates and Programs

The beauty business is not just about hair. There are many different related programs that are offered at cosmetology schools that students can take to learn their craft and prepare for a rewarding career. The following are examples of related programs available at these institutions.

Esthetics-Facialist

Students in esthetics programs learn about every aspect of the industry through classroom instruction and practical training. These programs differ from school to school, and licensing requirements differ from state to state, but generally students can expect to take around 500 hours of instruction. In addition to learning about esthetics techniques, students learn about anatomy and physiology, health and safety techniques, and the laws that govern the field.

The following are examples of coursework students may find in an esthetics beauty school program:

Facials

Students in this class learn techniques for manual, electrical, and chemical facials. The course covers topics such as masks, chemical skin peels and scrubs.

Eyebrow Beautification

Students in this course learn techniques on how to shape and wax eyebrows, including tweezing and waxing.

Makeup Artistry

Whether they are applying makeup in the fashion world for models, or in a salon for everyday people who have just gotten their hair done, these professionals are an important part of the beauty industry. Makeup artistry programs at cosmetology schools train students on aesthetic principles and practical skills so they can go on to find a job. In addition to learning makeup application, they also learn how diet affects the healthy look of skin and the business skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

Some courses that are available in makeup artistry programs include the following topics:

Principles and Techniques of Makeup for Fashion and Beauty

This course prepares students to apply makeup in the fashion industry or at a salon. Students learn about different skin types and tones, makeup selection, application techniques and the role health plays on the look of someone’s skin.

Stage Makeup

Students learn about makeup application techniques for theatrical performances. In addition, they will study how to use makeup to create a character, or give someone the appearance of having a mustache or beard.

The Business of Makeup Artistry

This class is for students who are interested in becoming business owners. Course topics include creating a business plan, networking in order to attract clients, building a company website and creating a portfolio.

Nail Technician

Nail technician programs help students learn technical skills as a hone their artistic abilities. These programs, which require about 300 hours of instruction, prepare students for their state licensing examinations, as well as giving them tools they need to run a business. The following are some examples of the courses that can be found at a cosmetology school with a nail technician program.

Nail Technician Introduction

The students in this course get a foundation on the methods of pedicuring, manicuring and applying artificial nails.

Pedicure

This course teaches students how to give a complete pedicure service, from nail analysis to foot massage.

Disinfection and Sanitation

Cleanliness is an important part of being a nail technician, so students who take this course will learn how to protect their customers when performing services.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis program requirements largely depend on where a student attends beauty school. The amount of hours needed to obtain a license can vary considerably, but generally range from 300 to 1,100. In some states, practitioners don’t need a license at all. No matter what state they’re in, students in these programs learn the day-to-day tasks of electrolysis practitioners and gain valuable clinical experience.

The following are examples of courses students may be required to take in their electrolysis programs:

Permanent Hair Removal for Men

This course teaches students how to remove beards, unibrows, ear hair, and hair on a man’s neck. In addition, students will learn how to shape eyebrows.

Introduction to Electrolysis

This course gives students a glimpse of how hair removal is performed. Course topics include the history of hair removal, the laws and regulations practitioners need to know, and the different methods for temporary and permanent removal of unwanted hair.

Barbering

Just like other hair programs, barbering degrees at cosmetology schools are designed to prepare students to pass the licensing examination in their state through extensive practical experience and classroom instruction. Some of the courses can be applied to working with men and women, while other parts of the program are specific to cutting men’s hair.

Some examples of barbering courses include the following list below:

Barbering Concepts

This course familiarizes students with barber, styling and hair treatments. Specific topics include skin, scalp and hair disorders and how to treat them, how to sanitize equipment and safety measures that barbers must adhere to.

Shaving

Students learn the best practices for shaving a man’s face, as well as the materials and products that are used when providing this service. Some course topics include anatomy and physiology.

Cosmetology Educator

Just as cosmetologists need to obtain a license to practice, cosmetology instructors are also required to meet their state’s licensing examinations. These programs teach experienced practitioners how to instruct those who want to follow in their professional footsteps. Students in these courses study teaching methodologies and theories that allow them to effectively teach students.

The courses below are some examples of what can be found in a cosmetology educator program:

Introduction to Instructor Concepts

Students in this course learn about theories of education. The skills gained in this course include how to develop lesson plans, supervise students as they perform cosmetology tasks, manage a laboratory and assess student progress.

Advanced Instructional Concepts

This course builds on the techniques students learned in the introductory course, giving them more information about lesson planning, doing demonstrations in class and performing administrative duties.

Cosmetology Toolbox/Checklist

By the time students are close to finishing their cosmetology studies, they should be well-prepared to practice in the field and pass the licensing examination in their state. There are some characteristics students possess that set them up for success when they’re earning a cosmetology degree. The following are some examples of what students need to have in order to graduate and be successful in the field.

  • Communication Skills.

    Cosmetology students have to be able to communicate effectively with their clients in order to be successful. They must have good listening skills, so when they’re doing a beauty consultation, they understand what their client wants. In addition, they must have good verbal communication skills, so they can give advice to clients in an authoritative manner. Communication skills are also important when dealing with colleagues in a salon in order to foster a team environment.

  • Customer Service Skills.

    These go hand-in-hand with communication skills when it comes to making salon clients happy. Students need to be able to ensure that every customer that leaves their chair feels like they got exactly what they wanted. And if they don’t, it’s a stylist’s job to be able to think on their feet and do what’s necessary to fix any problems with their service. Also, a professional needs to keep their stations clean and create an atmosphere that makes clients feel welcome.

  • Knowledge of Industry Standards.

    To be successful in a cosmetology program and the cosmetology field, students must be able to demonstrate an understanding of industry standards. From knowledge of theoretical concepts to the ability to demonstrate a certain technique, students must show that they’ve learned the tricks of the trade. In addition, they need to demonstrate that they understand safety precautions, sanitation techniques and business standards. And after they’ve graduated, they must always stay abreast of new developments in the field in order to give the best service possible.

Cosmetology Specializations

Whether students choose to specialize in makeup artistry, salon styling, barbering or esthetics, choosing a specialization is as important as choosing the right school. In order to excel in a program, and in a career, students should choose a specialization that matches their interests and strengths. If students don’t like what they’re doing, they’re not going to do it well and their clients will suffer for it.

Interview with a Cosmetologist

Stephen Sanna, a hair colorist at Pierre Michel Salon, discusses his experiences in cosmetology school.

What made you decide to earn a cosmetology degree?

I was always interested in hair and beauty but went to college and worked on Wall Street for a few years. I decided that a more creative career was for me. So I took the plunge and enrolled in the Robert Fiance Beauty School and have never regretted it.

What did you enjoy most about the program?

What I enjoyed most about the program was learning how to change the way a client looks. I enjoyed the techniques that were taught to alter someone’s appearance and learning that I had a talent for it.

What was the most challenging thing about the degree program?

The most challenging part of the program was learning how to understand what the client wants. What they say is not always what they want. You learn how to shampoo, a basic haircut, a perm or color as part of the training you work in the school salon. But now you are working on real people, having a consultation and hoping that that what you learned is what the client wants.

How do you feel the degree program prepared you for your career?

I think school gives you the basics how to shampoo and a haircut. You really need to be an apprentice. There is so much more that goes on in a salon that the school never touches on.

After Cosmetology School: What’s Next?

After graduation, barbers and hairdressers may enjoy a number of career options, including working in a salon, resort, or spa. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs are on the rise in these professions, and between 2012 and 2022, there will be a 13 percent increase in employment opportunities.

These are fast-paced jobs, which often require that professionals work long hours including evenings and weekends. Day-to-day duties of these professionals includes activities such as sanitizing their workstations and tools; washing, coloring, and conditioning clients’ hair; recommending the right treatments after inspecting someone’s hair and scalp; and receiving payments from customers.

Featured Careers Tool

  • Hairdressers, Hairstylists and Cosmetologists

    Provides services such as hair cutting, styling and coloring, scalp massage, hair extensions and more. Suggests different treatments and services to clients, keeps records of client past services and sets prices for services.

    Median salary: $23,140

    Hourly salary: $11.12

    Growth: 13%

    Number employed: 611,000

  • Manicurists and Pedicurists

    Cleans, shapes and decorates client fingernails and toenails. Performs hand and feet massages. Suggests special treatments and services.

    Median salary: $19,340

    Hourly salary: $9.30

    Growth: 16%

    Number employed: 87,000

  • Skincare Specialists

    Provides special skincare treatments to face and body. Cleanses, exfoliates and moisturizes skin, addresses and suggests treatment for skin problems such as dry skin or acne. Removes unwanted hair via approved treatments, encourages skincare follow up treatments.

    Median salary: $28,940

    Hourly salary: $13.92

    Growth: 40%

    Number employed: 44,000

Advice from a Cosmetologist

Jeff Chastain of the Jeff Chastain Parlor is a graduate of the Gene Juarez Academy of Beauty in Seattle. Below he gives advice to those who are thinking about enrolling in a cosmetology program.

Get your hair styled there first to get a feel for the vibe! Check
out a few schools that way. It’s worth the time and money to see how the instructors interact with the students. Did you like your service? Do you feel the student was learning? Also, ask the student questions and talk to the instructor to get information.

Jeff Chastain